Melky Cabrera

The latest “oh noes, Melky can’t win the batting title!” column

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The argument that Melky Cabrera should not be allowed to win the 2012 batting title because of his drug suspension was dumb a couple of weeks ago and it’s dumb again today. From Morosi:

The batting race, though, is one instance in which MLB must act — and it doesn’t need to be that complicated.

MLB should add an additional criterion for the batting and ERA titles: Players suspended for a PED offense must be automatically disqualified, because their violations gave them an unfair statistical advantage, on top of the obvious cheating … MLB can’t allow players to benefit statistically by stopping the clock on their season through PED use. That’s like a high-school student receiving an “A” on a test he missed because he was suspended for fighting in the cafeteria.

Setting aside the fact that many, many hitters have won batting titles despite having the advantage of a shorter season, Morosi falls far short of making a compelling case here. Sure, he talks about all the ways baseball could deal with the Melky problem — it would be easy to disqualify him, I’ll grant that —  but he never makes a case as to why baseball, or any of us, should care if Melky Caberea wins the batting title in the first place.

As Matthew noted a couple of weeks ago, the batting title isn’t an an award. It is not some endorsement by the league or an honor bestowed on a worthy competitor. It is a statistical measure and nothing more. It is a function of math, and it only matters to people in direct proportion to the weight they place in it.

And it’s certainly not significant like an MVP award. Quick: name two of the past ten NL batting champions. I bet you can’t. Because, sadly, winning a batting title did not place Freddy Sanchez into some Hall of Immortals atop a great mountain someplace. It just happened and why in the hell should any of us who are not related to Mr. Sanchez care?

Same goes for Melky. If he wins the batting title, it will be remembered only because of its dubiousness. The world will not end. It will not impact the economy or the schools and it will not send any child off into a life of crime. It would affect nothing other than the level of indignation people who like to be indignant about such things feel.

As I said last month, the idea of stripping people of awards and attempting top scrub history is nothing more than emotion-driven post-hoc righteous reactionary retribution. If you want to change the rule going forward and make a guy ineligible to be the batting champ or home run champ or whatever after a suspension, fine, do it. That’s how laws and rules work: prospectively.  But suddenly saying “Melky can’t be the batting champ!” is a silly emotional balm for people who should know better than to put that much damn weight into a statistical contest.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Starter Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field on September 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Indians, leading by one game over the Tigers, can clinch the AL Central on Monday night and they’ll have their best starter going for them in Corey Kluber. Kluber will match up against the Tigers’ Buck Farmer in a 7:10 PM EST start at Comerica Park.

Kluber won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014, going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA, but regressed last season, finishing with a league-worst total of 16 losses and a 3.49 ERA. Thankfully for the Indians, he bounced back in 2016. He’ll enter tonight’s start with an 18-9 record, a 3.11 ERA, and a 224/56 K/BB ratio in 211 innings. Among qualified starters in the AL, Kluber is fourth-best in ERA behind Michael Fulmer, Masahiro Tanaka, and Rick Porcello.

Kluber’s best case for the Cy Young is a Sabermetric one. Though his record is good, Porcello shares his 3.11 ERA but with a 22-4 record. Kluber, however, has the best Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) in the league at 3.11. FIP, for the uninitiated, is a “retrodictor.” In other words, it attempts to figure out what a pitcher’s ERA should have been if defense weren’t a factor. Kluber shines with a 26.6 percent strikeout rate that ranks as the fourth best in the league and a 6.7 percent walk rate that is the 17th-lowest. xFIP is like FIP but it assumes a home run rate close to the league average (about 10 percent as a percentage of fly balls). Kluber falls back to fifth in the league at 3.46 here, but the only players above him have much worse real results. So, even xFIP bolsters Kluber’s case for the Cy Young Award.

If Kluber is able to help the Indians beat the Tigers on Monday night, the club will have won a division title for the first time since 2007. That was when the club was led by CC Sabathia, then all of 26 years old. It’s been a long time coming for the Indians.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) @ Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Luis Severino) @ Toronto Blue Jays (J.A. Happ), 7:07 PM EDT

New York Mets (Bartolo Colon) @ Miami Marlins (Adam Conley), 7:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Matt Garza) @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez), 8:05 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly) @ Chicago White Sox (James Shields), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Tim Adleman) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia), 8:15 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 10:05 PM EDT

Officials: Speed, impact likely killed Jose Fernandez

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Some details have been released in connection with the investigation into the boat crash which killed Jose Fernandez.

Lorenzo Veloz, an official with the Florida Wildlife Commission, told USA Today that the boat carrying Jose Fernandez and two others was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck rocks as it approached a channel near the port of Miami. While autopsy results have not yet been released, it is likely that trauma from the crash, and not drowning, is what killed the boat’s passengers. Veloz said it did not appear that Fernandez was driving and that, while it was a boat he used often, it did not belong to him. Rather, it belonged to one of the other men killed in the crash.

Veloz said neither drugs nor alcohol are believed to have been a factor in the crash. Toxicology results will take some time, however.

It is estimated that the boat was traveling at full speed, between 55 and 65 miles per hour, when it hit rocks and capsized.